A comprehensive campaign including an information booklet for every household and engagement with social media companies is needed to build confidence in the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Seán Kyne, a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health, was speaking following today’s meeting of the committee which was addressed by Professor Brian MacCraith, Chair of the High Level Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccination, Professor Karina Butler, Head of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Rónán Glynn, and other officials.
Senator Kyne said: “In the early stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic we had clear, concise information on the Coronavirus – how it operates, how it spreads, the signs to watch out for and, crucially, the actions that we could all take to slow it down. That information and advice, without doubt, saved lives. And that’s what we need now.
“An information booklet to every household with details on the vaccines, how they work and what they do would be a great help as well as an emphasis by the HSE and the Department of Heath on partnering with GPs and local pharmacists in providing information and guidance to their patients and customers as part of the vaccine rollout.
“In addition, we need to engage with social media companies, including Facebook and Twitter, so that inaccurate, misleading and scaremongering claims are marked as ‘disputed’ in a similar way to how the social media platforms have approached elections, such as the recent US Presidential Election. Social media users could be directed towards impartial, verified and accurate information on the Programme and on vaccines.
“As the Implementation Plan states: ‘vaccines are a proven, cost-effective intervention to protect public health, second only to the provision of clean water.’
“False claims and misinformation spread faster than any virus and can be just as lethal. It is not enough for us to just react. We must actively challenge, confront and expose inaccurate, misleading claims and strive to build and maintain confidence. By doing so we can and will save lives,” Senator Kyne concluded.